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Bill Bales

Bales' most recent research investigated the effect of inmate visitation on recidivism. He found that inmates who have visitors are significantly less likely to re-offend after prison release. The more often they have visits and having visits closer to release have a considerable positive effect on successful community re-entry.

His other recent research has examined the contextual characteristics of the locations where prisoners return after release from prison and assessed the effectiveness of electronic monitoring for offenders placed on community supervision.

Bales was recently honored for his work on labeling theory. His paper, along with FSU criminologist Ted Chiricos and recent Ph.D graduates Kelle Barrick and Stephanie Bontrager was selected as the winner of the American Society of Criminology's Outstanding Paper Award. Their paper “The Labeling of Convicted Felons and Its Consequences for Recidivism,” published in Criminology (45: 547582) showed that convicted felons in Florida who had the formal certification of guilt, “adjudication,” withheld by the sentencing judge, were significantly less likely to recidivate in a two-year follow-up period than those for whom the felony convict label was formally applied. These labeling effects were stronger for those who reached the age of 30 without a prior conviction.

Bill Bales

Director of the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research
303A Eppes Hall


Ph.D. 1987, Florida State University; Criminology
M.S. 1977, Florida State University; Criminology
B.S. 1975, Florida State University; Sociology

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Research Methods Syllabi
  • Corrections Syllabi
  • Applied Statistics in Criminology III

Research Interests

  • Sentencing
  • Assessing the effectiveness and consequences of punishment strategies
  • Evaluation of correctional practices and programs
  • Community re-entry

Select Publications

  • Bales, William D. and Alex R. Piquero (2012). “Racial/Ethnic Differentials in Sentencing to Incarceration”. Justice Quarterly, 29:5, 742-773.
  • Bales, William D. and Alex R. Piquero (2012). “Racial/Ethnic Differentials in Sentencing to Incarceration”. Justice Quarterly, 29:5, 742-773
  • Bales, William D. and Courtenay H. Miller (2012). “The Impact of Determinate Sentencing on Prisoner Misconduct”. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40, 394-403.
  • Bales, William D. and Alex R. Piquero. (2012). “Assessing the Impact of Imprisonment on Recidivism”. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 8:71101.
  • Blomberg, Thomas G., William D. Bales, and Alex R. Piquero. (2012). “Is Educational Achievement a Turning Point for Incarcerated Delinquents Across Race and Sex?”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41, 202-216.
  • Mears, Daniel P., Joshua C. Cochran, and William D. Bales. (2012). “Gender Differences in the Effects of Prison on Recidivism”. Journal of Criminal Justice, 40:5, 370-378.
  • Warren, Patricia, Ted Chiricos, and William D. Bales (2012). “The Imprisonment Penalty for Young Black and Hispanic Males: A Crime-Specific Analysis”. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49:1, 56-80.
  • Blomberg, Thomas G., William D. Bales, Karen Mann, Alex R. Piquero, and Richard A. Berk. (2011). “Incarceration, Education and Transition from Delinquency”. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39, 355-365.
  • Bales, William D., Gerry G. Gaes, Thomas G. Blomberg, and Kerensa N. Pate, “Florida's Minimum 85 Percent Time Served Law for Prisoners: The Impact on Re-Entry Outcomes”, Justice Research & Policy. Vol 12, No. 1 (2010): 41-71.
  • Mears, Daniel P. and William D. Bales, “Supermax housing: Placement, duration, and Time to Reentry”, Journal of Criminal Justice. Vol. 38, (2010): 545-554.
  • Wang, Xia, Daniel P. Mears, and William D. Bales. “Race-Specific Employment Contexts and Recidivism.”Criminology. Vol 48, No. 4 (2010): 1171-1212.
  • Mears, Daniel P. and William D. Bales, “Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism”. Criminology. Vol 47, No. 4 (2009): 801-836.
  • Bales, William D., and Daniel P. Mears, “Inmate Social Ties and the Transition to Society: Does Visitation Reduce Recidivism?”Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 45(3), (2008): 287-321.
  • Mears, Daniel P., Xia Wang, Carter Hay, and William D. Bales. “Social Ecology and Recidivism: Implications for Prisoner Reentry.” Criminology 46(2), (2008): 301-340.
  • Chiricos, Ted, Kelle Barrick, William D. Bales and Stephanie Bontrager, “The Labeling of Convicted Felons and The Consequences for Recidivism”. Criminology. Vol. 45, No. 3, August (2007): 547-581.


  • “Family Drug Court Program Evaluation”. A six month $15,000 project funded by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (April 2003-August 2013.)
  • “Building and Enhancing Criminal Justice Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships”. A $598,982 project with the Florida Department of Corrections funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, May 2012-April 2015.
  • “An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Electronic Monitoring for Medium and High Risk Offenders on Supervision and Post-Supervision Outcomes”. A $281,978 project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (September 2007-December 2009).
  • “Youth Violence Prevention Project”, A $75,000 project funded by the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, April 2005 to May 2006.
  • “Fiscal Impact and Public Safety Effects of Proposed Attorney General's Bill: Forcible Felony Violator”,  $15,600, funded by the Florida Attorney General's Office, December 1, 2005 to March 30, 2005.
  • “The Impact of PRIDE on Post-Release Employment and Recidivism”, $25,000, funded by the Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc., June 1, 2004 to August 30, 2004.